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Is ‘Healthy Coke’ Healthier Than Real Coke?



Is ‘Healthy Coke’ Healthier Than Real Coke?

Just when we thought TikTok couldn’t bring about any weirder trends, its latest craze known as “healthy Coke” has raised questions and confusion among experts and users alike. If you haven’t heard of it, “healthy Coke” became a phenomenon after TikToker Amanda Jones said it was a healthier alternative to the soft drink. It consists of ice, balsamic vinegar and sparkling water. Yes, you read that right: Balsamic vinegar — the ingredient you add to salad dressings. The idea is that the mixture is supposed to taste like Coca-Cola. But does it really?

Everyone knows drinking sodas regularly isn’t the best thing for our health, but is it really worth replacing it with a fizzy, vinegar-based drink? TikTok is known to be influential on teens, so it’s concerning that they’re being told that they should drink vinegar instead of a soda if they’re craving the beverage. With all the latest wellness trends on TikTok, it’s easy to get consumed in that world, but should you believe everything you see? 

To find out, I spoke with a couple of dietitians and a dentist. Here’s what they had to say about this latest TikTok trend.

‘Healthy Coke’ contributes to diet culture

One of the big issues with “healthy Coke” is that it’s another trend rooted in diet culture. “This is a lower-calorie alternative to drinking regular soda, and many people think that makes it automatically healthier, and that’s not the case,” said Christine Byrne, a North Carolina-based registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. 

Gabriela Barreto, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist, agrees, noting that the trend perpetuates the notion that there are good versus bad foods or beverages. “It implies that sugar is the enemy and that there are certain foods that will make or break your health, which is all a product of diet culture,” she said. “By assigning foods a moral value, we reiterate the idea that eating these foods means that you are doing something wrong or bad and that continues to grow a negative relationship with food for many people.” As a result of these habits, many people end up developing disordered eating. 

Overconsumption of sugary drinks is not good for us because it puts us at risk for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and much more. But let’s be honest, when you opt to drink a soda, chances are you aren’t drinking it for its health benefits. You drink it because you crave the sugar, carbonation or caffeine, or simply because you enjoy it. 

“Regular coke isn’t something you should drink at every meal, but as part of a nourishing overall diet, it’s fine to have one sometimes,” said Byrne. If you drink soda, she added, it’s best to pair it with a meal or snack, because getting many nutrients (not just sugar) will help keep your blood sugar more stable.

It’s just as acidic as soda

Similar to other carbonated beverages, “healthy Coke” is highly acidic. Every food and drink has a pH value that indicates how acidic or alkaline it is. To determine the acidity level, the product is usually tested using pH strips or a pH meter, and then measured against a pH scale, which has a range from zero to 14. Water, for example, is considered neutral, and has a pH value of 7. Anything with a pH value below 7 is considered acidic, and anything with a pH value above 7 is considered low in acid, or alkaline. 

“Consuming that amount of balsamic vinegar, which is highly acidic at a pH of 2 to 3, in a beverage can be harmful,” said Barreto. This is because highly acidic beverages can erode tooth enamel, irritate your esophagus and create or worsen acid reflux. “Generally, when we consume balsamic vinegar in a salad, there are other ingredients and the content of balsamic vinegar is not that high,” she added.

From an oral care perspective, the “healthy Coke” trend isn’t any healthier than consuming a regular soda. “The pH of vinegar is about 2 to 3, which is around the same level of acidity as a full sugar Coke or a Diet Coke, meaning it’s equally as detrimental to the enamel in high volumes,” said Dr. Joyce Kahng, a California-based cosmetic dentist. “For reference, tooth enamel demineralizes at a pH of 5.5, so regardless of whether it is a regular Coke or not, both are unhealthy for teeth.”

Possible health risks involved

It’s important to know that the “healthy Coke” trend may not be suitable for everyone who wants to try it. People who have issues with their esophagus and acid reflux should avoid this trend. “For someone with gastroesophageal reflux disease, such an acidic and bubbly drink could cause acid reflux, although the same is true for any kind of sparkling drink, as well as anything with lots of acid,” explained Byrne.

For most people, there aren’t any physical health risks to be concerned about, according to Byrne. However, If you’re on medication and worried about a potential interaction, always ask your doctor or pharmacist first. 

If you choose to drink “healthy Coke” or other carbonated beverages, Kahng suggests drinking it within a short time frame or with a meal. “Sipping on something that is acidic over a long period of time is the worst thing you can do because it prolongs an acidic pH intraorally,” she said. “Remember that the carbonation and flavors reduce the pH into the acidic zone, which is not great for teeth.”

You’re better off drinking the real deal

Now that you know that “healthy Coke” may not be worth the hype, you’re probably wondering if you’re better off drinking the real deal or the diet version. “Soda has been branded as one of the main culprits and major causes for metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but metabolic diseases are very complex,” said Barreto. “There are many factors including genetics, environment, overall lifestyle, socioeconomic status and more.”  

She acknowledges that while soda contains sugar, she doesn’t believe that sugar is something to be feared. “The more fearmongering we place around certain products or ingredients, the worse our relationship with food gets,” she said. “And we know from growing research and experience, this doesn’t work in improving people’s health at all, because it leads to more restrictive dieting, which ends up worsening not bettering one’s health.”

As far as diet soda goes, there’s been speculation over the years about its health value, but evidence is lacking to support this. Although the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners is still up for debate, it’s generally safe to consume. “There are many myths out there about diet soda, such as that it will actually increase your blood sugar, increase insulin response, make you crave more sugar and so forth,” said Barreto. There are even claims that artificial sweeteners can cause changes to your gut bacteria, which isn’t entirely false. “While this is potentially true, the dosage that can cause harm or changes is much higher than that found in a single can of diet Coke,” she said.

Overall, Barreto thinks diet soda is a good alternative for people who enjoy the taste of soda but have to monitor their blood sugar levels, such as those with diabetes. Byrne points out some people may experience bloating and bad breath from drinking diet soda. “Just as with regular Coke, and even “healthy Coke,” it’s unlikely that drinking diet sodas sometimes will have any huge impact on your health, good or bad, because no single food or drink is powerful enough to do that.”

Bottom line

It’s important to reiterate that just because something is trending on TikTok doesn’t mean it should be copied. It’s healthy to question viral trends and ask yourself how they could be harmful or helpful. If you’re ever in a bind, it’s best to err on the side of caution and ask a professional first. 

If you’ve tried the “healthy Coke” trend and genuinely like it, then, by all means, drink away. But if you’re not into it, that’s okay, too — you can opt for the real deal or the diet version instead. The most important takeaway from this is that not every food or drink needs to be “healthified,” and you should be able to enjoy your favorite foods or drinks in their original form. According to Byrne, “There’s no need to create ‘healthier’ versions of your favorite foods because these swaps will never satisfy you the way the real thing will.”

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are getting a built-in VPN at no extra cost




Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are getting a built-in VPN at no extra cost
Google Pixel 7 Pro hands on front Snow

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Users of the Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro devices will be able to secure their data without the need to pay for an additional Android VPN after the company said it would be including its Google One VPN service at no extra cost. 

The move will make the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro the first smartphones to include a free VPN connection. 

The offer is restricted to just some countries, though – and what’s more, some data won’t be secured inside the VPN tunnel.  

Peace of mind when you connect online ✨Later this year, #Pixel7 and 7 Pro will be the only phones with a VPN by Google One—at no extra cost.¹#MadeByGoogle¹See image for more info 6, 2022

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Google Pixel 7 VPN

Despite the aforementioned limits, the big tech giant assures that the VPN software won’t associate users’ app and browsing data with users’ accounts. 

Google One VPN typically costs around $10 per month as part of the company’s Premium One plan, which also comes with a 2TB of cloud storage on top. 

This decision is the latest move to bring Google’s mobile data security to the next level. Not too long ago, the company made Google One VPN available also for iOS devices, and also introduced the option of having an always-on VPN across its latest smartphones. 

Google promises that its secure VPN software will shield your phone against hackers on unsecure networks, like public Wi-Fi. It will also hide your IP address so that third parties won’t be able to track your location.

Shorter for virtual private network, a VPN is exactly the tool you want to shield your sensitive data as it masks your real location and encrypts all your data in transit. Beside privacy, it can allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and other online blocks. 

Chiara is a multimedia journalist, with a special eye for latest trends and issues in cybersecurity. She is a Staff Writer at Future with a focus on VPNs. She mainly writes news and features about data privacy, online censorship and digital rights for TechRadar, Tom’s Guide and T3. With a passion for digital storytelling in all its forms, she also loves photography, video making and podcasting. Originally from Milan in Italy, she is now based in Bristol, UK, since 2018.

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The Steam Deck dock is finally here and will ship faster than you think




The Steam Deck dock is finally here and will ship faster than you think
a steam deck placed in a steam deck dock

(Image credit: Valve)

After months of waiting and delays, Valve has finally announced that the Steam Deck dock is available for purchase on its official site.

Not only that but, according to Valve, the dock will ship out in an incredibly fast one to two weeks, which pairs with the fact that the Steam Deck itself is now shipping with no wait time (not to mention that it’s incredibly easy to set up). The port selection is pretty solid as well, with the dock featuring three USB-A 3.1 gen 1 ports, one Ethernet port, a DisplayPort 1.4, and an HDMI 2.0 port. And for its power supply, it uses a USB-C passthrough delivery.

A Steam Deck dock will run you $90 (around £81 / AU$140), which is a bit steeper than most third-party options on the market right now. But for those waiting it out for an official product until now, price most likely will not be an issue.

Is it worth buying? 

Considering that even Steam Decks themselves are shipping without a queue and that the dock has such a quick turnaround to delivery, it seems that the supply chain issues that had been gripping Valve are loosening considerably.

However, the deck itself is far from perfect. Because of the fact that it uses USB-C for the display port, a third-party USB-C dock that uses its own power supply and video out will output the display of the official dock. 

And as mentioned before, the price of the official Steam Deck dock is steeper than many third-party options on the market, meaning that those who are on a budget might pass this product up in favor of a lower-priced one.

There are also some bugs that Valve is working on fixing at this time, including one involving compatibility with LG displays. According to the FAQ, if the “Docking Station is connected via HDMI, sleep/wake can result in visual noise.”

It might be worth waiting for Valve to work out the kinks of its dock before investing in one. And while you’re waiting, research other options that might better suit your needs.

Allisa has been freelancing at TechRadar for nine months before joining as a Computing Staff Writer. She mainly covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, and does reviews and featured articles for the site. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.

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Why doesn’t Bash’s `set -e` do what I expected?




Why doesn’t set -e (or set -o errexit, or trap ERR) do what I expected?

set -e was an attempt to add “automatic error detection” to the shell. Its goal was to cause the shell to abort any time an error occurred, so you don’t have to put || exit 1 after each important command. This does not work well in practice.

The goal of automatic error detection is a noble one, but it requires the ability to tell when an error actually occurred. In modern high-level languages, most tasks are performed by using the language’s builtin commands or features. The language knows whether (for example) you tried to divide by zero, or open a file that you can’t open, and so on. It can take action based on this knowledge.

But in the shell, most of the tasks you actually care about are done by external programs. The shell can’t tell whether an external program encountered something that it considers an error — and even if it could, it wouldn’t know whether the error is an important one, worthy of aborting the entire program, or whether it should carry on.

The only information conveyed to the shell by the external program is an exit status — by convention, 0 for success, and non-zero for “some kind of error”. The developers of the original Bourne shell decided that they would create a feature that would allow the shell to check the exit status of every command that it runs, and abort if one of them returns non-zero. Thus, set -e was born.

But many commands return non-zero even when there wasn’t an error. For example,

if [ -d /foo ]; then ...; else ...; fi

If the directory doesn’t exist, the [ command returns non-zero. Clearly we don’t want to abort when that happens — our script wants to handle that in the else part. So the shell implementors made a bunch of special rules, like “commands that are part of an if test are immune”, and “commands in a pipeline, other than the last one, are immune”.

These rules are extremely convoluted, and they still fail to catch even some remarkably simple cases. Even worse, the rules change from one Bash version to another, as Bash attempts to track the extremely slippery POSIX definition of this “feature”. When a SubShell is involved, it gets worse still — the behavior changes depending on whether Bash is invoked in POSIX mode. Another wiki has a page that covers this in more detail. Be sure to check the caveats.

A reference comparing behavior across various historical shells also exists.

Story time

Consider this allegory, originally posted to bug-bash:

Once upon a time, a man with a dirty lab coat and long, uncombed hair
showed up at the town police station, demanding to see the chief of
police.  "I've done it!" he exclaimed.  "I've built the perfect
criminal-catching robot!"

The police chief was skeptical, but decided that it might be worth
the time to see what the man had invented.  Also, he secretly thought,
it might be a somewhat unwise move to completely alienate the mad
scientist and his army of hunter robots.

So, the man explained to the police chief how his invention could tell
the difference between a criminal and law-abiding citizen using a
series of heuristics.  "It's especially good at spotting recently
escaped prisoners!" he said.  "Guaranteed non-lethal restraints!"

Frowning and increasingly skeptical, the police chief nevertheless
allowed the man to demonstrate one robot for a week.  They decided that
the robot should patrol around the jail.  Sure enough, there was a
jailbreak a few days later, and an inmate digging up through the
ground outside of the prison facility was grabbed by the robot and
carried back inside the prison.

The surprised police chief allowed the robot to patrol a wider area.
The next day, the chief received an angry call from the zookeeper.
It seems the robot had cut through the bars of one of the animal cages,
grabbed the animal, and delivered it to the prison.

The chief confronted the robot's inventor, who asked what animal it
was.  "A zebra," replied the police chief.  The man slapped his head and
exclaimed, "Curses!  It was fooled by the black and white stripes!
I shall have to recalibrate!"  And so the man set about rewriting the
robot's code.  Black and white stripes would indicate an escaped
inmate UNLESS the inmate had more than two legs.  Then it should be
left alone.

The robot was redeployed with the updated code, and seemed to be
operating well enough for a few days.  Then on Saturday, a mob of
children in soccer clothing, followed by their parents, descended
on the police station.  After the chaos subsided, the chief was told
that the robot had absconded with the referee right in the middle of
a soccer game.

Scowling, the chief reported this to the scientist, who performed a
second calibration.  Black and white stripes would indicate an escaped
inmate UNLESS the inmate had more than two legs OR had a whistle on
a necklace.

Despite the second calibration, the police chief declared that the robot
would no longer be allowed to operate in his town.  However, the news
of the robot had spread, and requests from many larger cities were
pouring in.  The inventor made dozens more robots, and shipped them off
to eager police stations around the nation.  Every time a robot grabbed
something that wasn't an escaped inmate, the scientist was consulted,
and the robot was recalibrated.

Unfortunately, the inventor was just one man, and he didn't have the
time or the resources to recalibrate EVERY robot whenever one of them
went awry.  The robot in Shangri-La was recalibrated not to grab a
grave-digger working on a cold winter night while wearing a ski mask,
and the robot in Xanadu was recalibrated not to capture a black and
white television set that showed a movie about a prison break, and so
on.  But the robot in Xanadu would still grab grave-diggers with ski
masks (which it turns out was not common due to Xanadu's warmer climate),
and the robot in Shangri-La was still a menace to old televisions (of
which there were very few, the people of Shangri-La being on the average
more wealthy than those of Xanadu).

So, after a few years, there were different revisions of the
criminal-catching robot in most of the major cities.  In some places,
a clever criminal could avoid capture by wearing a whistle on a string
around the neck.  In others, one would be well-advised not to wear orange
clothing in certain rural areas, no matter how close to the Harvest
Festival it was, unless one also wore the traditional black triangular
eye-paint of the Pumpkin King.

Many people thought, "This is lunacy!"  But others thought the robots
did more good than harm, all things considered, and so in some places
the robots are used, while in other places they are shunned.

The end.


Or, “so you think set -e is OK, huh?”

Exercise 1: why doesn’t this example print anything?

   2 set -e
   3 i=0
   4 let i++
   5 echo "i is $i"

Exercise 2: why does this one sometimes appear to work? In which versions of bash does it work, and in which versions does it fail?

   2 set -e
   3 i=0
   4 ((i++))
   5 echo "i is $i"

Exercise 3: why aren’t these two scripts identical?

   2 set -e
   3 test -d nosuchdir && echo no dir
   4 echo survived
   2 set -e
   3 f() { test -d nosuchdir && echo no dir; }
   4 f
   5 echo survived

Exercise 4: why aren’t these two scripts identical?

   1 set -e
   2 f() { test -d nosuchdir && echo no dir; }
   3 f
   4 echo survived
   1 set -e
   2 f() { if test -d nosuchdir; then echo no dir; fi; }
   3 f
   4 echo survived

Exercise 5: under what conditions will this fail?

   1 set -e
   2 read -r foo < configfile


But wait, there’s more!

Even if you use expr(1) (which we do not recommend — use arithmetic expressions instead), you still run into the same problem:

   1 set -e
   2 foo=$(expr 1 - 1)
   4 echo survived

Subshells from command substitution unset set -e, however (unless inherit_errexit is set with Bash 4.4):

   1 set -e
   2 foo=$(expr 1 - 1; true)
   4 echo survived

Note that set -e is not unset for commands that are run asynchronously, for example with process substitution:

   1 set -e
   2 mapfile foo < <(true; echo foo)
   3 echo ${foo[-1]} 
   4 mapfile foo < <(false; echo foo)
   5 echo ${foo[-1]} 

Another pitfall associated with set -e occurs when you use commands that look like assignments but aren’t, such as export, declare, typeset or local.

   1 set -e
   2 f() { local var=$(somecommand that fails); }
   3 f    
   5 g() { local var; var=$(somecommand that fails); }
   6 g    

In function f, the exit status of somecommand is discarded. It won’t trigger the set -e because the exit status of local masks it (the assignment to the variable succeeds, so local returns status 0). In function g, the set -e is triggered because it uses a real assignment which returns the exit status of somecommand.

A particularly dangerous pitfall with set -e is combining functions with conditionals. The following snippets will not behave the same way:

   1 set -e
   2 f() { false; echo "This won't run, right?"; }
   3 f
   4 echo survived
   1 set -e
   2 f() { false; echo "This won't run, right?"; }
   3 if f; then  
   4     echo survived
   5 fi

As soon as a function is used as a conditional (in a list or with a conditional test or loop) set -e stops being applied within the function. This may not only cause code to unexpectedly start executing in the function but also change its return status!

Using Process substitution, the exit code is also discarded as it is not visible from the main script:

   1 set -e
   2 cat <(somecommand that fails)
   3 echo survived

Using a pipe makes no difference, as only the rightmost process is considered:

   1 set -e
   2 somecommand that fails | cat -
   3 echo survived

set -o pipefail is a workaround by returning the exit code of the first failed process:

   1 set -e -o pipefail
   2 failcmd1 | failcmd2 | cat -
   4 echo survived

though with pipefail in effect, code like this will sometimes cause an error, depending on whether the output of somecmd exceeds the size of the pipe buffer or not:

   1 set -e -o pipefail
   2 somecmd | head -n1
   4 echo survived

So-called strict mode

In the mid 2010s, some people decided that the combination of set -e, set -u and set -o pipefail should be used by default in all new shell scripts. They call this unofficial bash strict mode, and they claim that it “makes many classes of subtle bugs impossible” and that if you follow this policy, you will “spend much less time debugging, and also avoid having unexpected complications in production”.

As we’ve already seen in the exercises above, these claims are dubious at best. The behavior of set -e is quite unpredictable. If you choose to use it, you will have to be hyper-aware of all the false positives that can cause it to trigger, and work around them by “marking” every line that’s allowed to fail with something like ||true.


GreyCat‘s personal recommendation is simple: don’t use set -e. Add your own error checking instead.

rking’s personal recommendation is to go ahead and use set -e, but beware of possible gotchas. It has useful semantics, so to exclude it from the toolbox is to give into FUD.

geirha’s personal recommendation is to handle errors properly and not rely on the unreliable set -e.

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